HITS-on-the-Hudson has been dubbed The Chapot Show as Laura Chapot of Neshanic Station, New Jersey won her third Grand Prix in a row when she produced the only double-clear ride in Sunday’s $75,000 Chartis Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health. Last Sunday during HITS-on-the-Hudson IV, Chapot won the $50,000 HITS Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, riding Quointreau Un Prince to close out the show. She followed that up on Friday with a victory aboard Umberto in the $25,000 SmartPak Grand Prix, presented by Pfizer Animal Health, and came back strong to claim victory for the third time on Sunday afternoon.
“I’ve had him a year and a half now,” said an ecstatic Chapot after the class. “He’s a very careful, very speedy horse. We’ve really started to come together this year. I think now he understands my rides and I understand how he rides because he’s a little bit different than some of my other horses. He doesn’t have as big of a stride, so I can’t rely on just leaving out strides to beat everyone but he’s quick.”
A field of 20 starters was narrowed down to five after a difficult first-round course set by International Course Designer Florencio Hernandez of Mexico City, Mexico, who was impressed with Chapot's win on Friday. On Sunday, Hernandez gave riders a ride for their money with major faults being earned at the in-and-out combinations, especially the 8A-B diagonal line which had stiff planks that fell for 12 horse and rider teams. Even the pesky last jump, a skinny vertical, saw rails fall for nearly half the class. As five teams advanced to the jump-off, only three finished the first round with a four-fault score.
The jump-off was a star-studded main event, with riders of international and Olympic fame. It proved almost more difficult than the first round, with only Chapot being able to produce a double-clear effort. Hernandez included the 8A-B combination and used the skinny vertical once again as the last jump in the jump-off, which everyone except Chapot had down.
“I think there were a lot of difficult parts to the course,” added Chapot. “I think the double planks caught a lot of people, especially with the triple bar right ahead of it. There were a lot of questions all around.”
First to return was Candice King of Wellington, Florida and Mark Bellissimo’s Kismet 50. King put the pedal to the metal after an unlucky rail at the first fence, but was the first to fall victim to the skinny after a long and winding approach to the final fence. Their score of eight faults in 54.833 seconds would earn them the third-place ribbon.
Ireland was represented by half of the riders in the jump-off as Darragh Kenny, now of Wellington, Florida, and Irish Olympian Kevin Babington, now of Gwynedd Valley, Pennsylvania, were the next two to show. Kenny, aboard Sandor de la Pomme, owned by The Wannahave Group, earned an eight-fault score almost three seconds faster than King’s in 51.744 seconds to take the lead. The duo eventually finished second.
Babington and his own Mark Q, who were victors last year in the Strongid® C 2X Stadium, made eight faults the norm and finished in 56.575 seconds to sit in third place with two entries to go. In the end, he would take home the fourth-place ribbon.
Next to show was Chapot, who set The Great American Time to Beat at 52.780 seconds, which would prove to be the only double-clear of the day. “I knew at that point that nobody else was clear,” said Chapot. “But with Jeffery Welles behind me on a very fast horse I knew I needed to be fast and clear, but not go too crazy and risk a rail.”
Welles of Brewster, New York and Noel Love Gross’ Merlin, who had a spooky and difficult ride in the first round that nearly kept them from the jump-off, entered next. Twelve faults on the field and 55.203 seconds on the clock rounded out the top five ribbons and handed Chapot her third victory thus far this series.